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In all Caribbean academic conferences, seminars, webinars, panel presentations and roundtables, there are few Indo-Caribbean researchers, scholars, and intellectuals. Given that they are a numerical minority in the region, they are still almost invisible because they just do not appear in the audience or on the stage.
But you do see these university “educated” people from the Humanities and Social Sciences in all-Indian Facebook, WhatsApp, and email chat groups and communal blogs. They speak in safe spaces such as private gatherings and in Indian Diaspora Conferences usually held in communal venues such as the NCIC Divali Nagar, rather than in university auditoriums.
They hardly appear in large multi-ethnic fora dominated by non-Indians and are incapable or too scared to debate with Afro intellectuals on race and ethnicity. Perhaps they have taken a decision to self-surrender into silence and invisibility because they have been shouted down too many times. Their gravest mortal fear is to be called “racist”, so they avoid any semblance of researching, writing, or talking in public spaces about Indian identity. Not unexpected, they fear talking or writing about institutionalized discrimination and systemic racism against their own Indian group, even when they themselves are victims.
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If these Postgraduates, ABDs (All but dissertation), PhDs, and Professors do appear in multi-racial gatherings, they are apologetic about being Indo-Caribbean, assume a Black persona, and viciously attack fellow Indians and Indian identity to prove to Others that “I am not one of the Indian” or “I am not one like them Indian”. If they do appear in multi-ethnic conferences, it is to talk about their research on the past (indentureship, 1838-1917), not the present; talk about past oppression by Whites, not about present institutionalized discrimination by Blacks.
It is a type of Saheb Babu or Uncle Tom personality, the latter drawn from Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) in which the title character is an enslaved African American. In an attempt to cope with threats, Tom becomes passive, submissive, subservient, and appeasing to his master. This type of Indian academic, teaching in Black-dominated (community) colleges and universities, give up or hide their ethnic outlook, traits and practices in order to be accepted into the mainstream.
The theory of multicultural psychology explains ethnic minority behavior as a means of coping with threats, hostility, and subjugation by dominant individuals and groups. [Multicultural psychology explains all aspects of human behavior as they occur in settings where people of different racial and cultural backgrounds encounter each other (Peony Elyn Fhagen, 2010)].
As ethnic minorities, Saheb Babus and Uncle Toms even identify with hegemonic group members and adopt their thoughts, views, expressions, and behavior. They become docile, non-assertive, and non-interrogative as a survival technique for recruitment, permanent employment (tenure), promotion, peace, and self-preservation as well as to maintain good, friendly relations with their aggressors and superiors to avoid retaliation.
Society for Caribbean Studies 44th Annual Conference
One case in point is the current six-day, online Society for Caribbean Studies 44th Annual Conference (5th – 10th 2021). Of about 90 presenters, there is only ONE (1) Indo-Caribbean academic: Ms. Shalima Mohammed. Based in Trinidad and Tobago, Mohammed is the only intellectual from the entire Caribbean, including Guyana and Suriname, and their Diasporas. Indeed, she is the only Indo-Caribbean from the entire Western Hemisphere to present a research paper as (a) an Indo-Caribbean, and (b) on an Indo-Caribbean topic. Her presentation is/was entitled: “Exploitation: Re-imagining the migrant experience” based on her fieldwork on Indo-Guyanese migrants in Trinidad. Mohammed qualifies as a scholar mainly because she contextualizes her field and library research in a theoretical framework, lacking in so many presentations and publications by PhDs and Professors.
This is her brief biodata: SHALIMA MOHAMMED (Trinidad and Tobago) obtained her Master’s degree in Business Psychology from Franklin University in Ohio in the USA, graduating with a GPA of 4.0. She is a strong advocate for health and wellness practices based on Traditional and/or Alternative Healing. Mohammed has presented research papers at the University of the West Indies (UWI) in Trinidad, at the Anton de Kom University of Suriname, and in Indore, Madhya Pradesh in India.
In this Society for Caribbean Studies (SCS) 44th Annual Conference with about 90 presenters, where are the other Indo-Caribbean Postgraduates, ABDs (All but dissertation), PhDs, and Professors from the Humanities and Social Sciences? Some of them find time to write weekly newspaper columns but refuse to present their thoughts, ideas and research findings at conferences to be peer-reviewed by international scholars
The theory of multicultural psychology explains why academics of the dominant Afro-Caribbean group feel empowered and self-confident to present papers on racism, slavery, C.L.R James, Kambule, Ghana, Creole Poetry, Kamau Brathwaite, Haiti, ex-slaves, reparations, reggae/dancehall, Aimé Césaire, Emancipation, Apprenticeship, Black Spectacle, Black Bodies, Carnival, Soca and Afro-Caribbean identity. SEE the following non-Indian presenters and their topic presentations:
- COMMISSIONG, NATASHA: Race and Gender-Based Violence in the Caribbean.
- PETLEY, Christer: ‘The Baptist War in Jamaica: Rethinking the Politics of Slave Resistance and Rebellion.
- HØGSBJERG, CHRIST: C.L.R. James and South Wales.
- FRANCIS, KEON: Kambule: Bois Bataille! Re-enactment, Social consciousness and Power in Contemporary Trinidad.
- ETHERINGTON, BEN: ‘Hie, Bro. Mahbunta!’: On the Beginnings of Creole Poetry in Print in the Anglophone Caribbean.
- ZIMBLER, JARAD: ‘A Caribbean Presence in Africa: Kamau Brathwaite’s Ghanaian Writings’.
- KETTLE, SHODONA ORISSA: The case for reparations in Haiti: Remembering and strategic forgetting.
- ITO, MICHIRU: Narratives on perceived whites and their privilege – Analysing whiteness in Barbados.
- GILL, GORDON: The Contestation and Construction of Freedom by Guyanese Ex-Slaves, 1834-1848.
- PATTEN, H: Dancing identity: reggae/dancehall and visibility in Britain.
- JOSEPH JACKSON, SHAMMANE: History of the Construction of the British Guiana Railway and its Effects on the Emancipated Africans.
- ALLEN-PAISANT, JASON: Thinking with Spirits, or, Dwelling and Knowing in the work of Aimé Césaire.
- SMITH, CHELSEY: Cultivating Free Children’s Minds: Child Labor and Education in Apprenticeship Era Jamaica, 1834-1838.
- WALL, NATALIE: Black Spectacle, Black Bodies: Performing the Caribbean at the Notting Hill Carnival.
- BARRATT, KAI: “By Any Means…”: Soca and Survival on Instagram Live.
- BROWN, CHASITIE: Performing Afro-Caribbean Identity: Carnival in Santiago de Cuba.
Had this SCS Conference been an Indian Diaspora Conference organized and hosted online by the NCIC Divali Nagar in Central Trinidad, the number of Indo-Caribbean presenters would have been about 40, instead of one (1). Does the theory of multicultural psychology explain this group behavior? As an ethnic minority, Indo-Caribbean people feel safer and more comfortable in their own settings among their own people with whom they can identify, as opposed to a multi-ethnic environment with the presence of a hegemonic group. This type of behavior is universal among all ethnic groups, particularly a minority in a mono-cultural setting where the risk of religious, racial, political, and ideological conflict is minimal.
By Dr. Kumar Mahabir
Dr. Mahabir is an anthropologist who has published 12 books.
When it comes to our day-to-day life, there are several things which help us enhance our day with every step. One such thing is music. It enhances, motivates and boosts certain aspects of our personality in ways that may not come into notice. There have been several researches on how music affects human brain. Studies show it helps us in recovery and healing, and also, encouraging us to be better if exposed to the right kind and fit.
From kids to elderly, music as a commodity, can be consumed by all. It is the universal language that is spoken by each and every being, from animals to humans to plants, each respond to it in their own ways. Suffice to say, we are united by music and the effect it has over us. Plants, for example, grow better when exposed to good music. Many songs are being composed specifically to enhance and boost their growth. Same is the case for humans. For humans, the right kind of music can boost good health, physically as well as mentally. You might have noticed how in gyms, upbeat music is played. That is to channel energy into everyone present. It adds to the workout. Several researches around the world have shown better physical output when exposed to appropriate music. Fast paced songs with upbeat nature channeled speed and the slower ones slowed downs the listeners, without them noticing. The sub-conscious effects of music are continuously being studied.
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Our heart starts beating according to the music we are listening to.Unsplash
Listening to upbeat or happy music also reduces stress and pressure from our minds. Many people become relaxed while listening to calming music. This is why calming sounds are used during a yoga session. Classical music seems to have the same calming and soothing effect. Furthermore, classical music has much more advantages over metal or techno music, it has proven to enhance learning and improve sleep in its listeners. A study was conducted in which participants were divided in groups where one group was exposed to classical music, another to metal and last one was supervised without any music. The group exposed to classical music showed healthier sleeping pattern than the rest.
Also Read: Undiscovered Music Trends For Indian Music
Several brands and outlets encash on different characteristics of music. Calm and soothing music is used in spas to help customer relax. It is a known fact that our heart starts beating according to the music we are listening to. So, music with faster beats will have our heart beating faster and the slow one will have calmer effect. This is why slow music channels calm. And the same fact has led to faster and upbeat music being played in food outlets. A study conducted in a farm, where people were invited to have food, where one half was exposed to slower music and for other fast-paced music was played. Not only did the group exposed to fast-music ate faster but also ate more than the group who ate in slower one. Next time you are in a food outlet or a restaurant observe the kind of music they are playing and the eating pattern.
Music can even be a facilitator of communication. We can sometimes convey our thoughts through the medium of a song. Sometimes someone’s words justify our inner feelings better than us. Or sometimes a song brings back certain memory or a place, and takes us to that certain moment. To say music is a time-machine would not be wrong. It is a dynamic blessing that can be used throughout our lives.
Key Words: Music, Calm, Soothing, Effects of Music
As more and more people are acknowledging the importance of their mental well-being, the wave of awareness the acknowledgment has brought is unprecedented. It may not have paved a clear path towards complete healing but it certainly has shown the way. The awareness is the key to heal. Healing begins only after the problem is identified. Similar to physical illness, the identification of the problem area is the first step. Even in case of a minor wound, when we go to the hospital the nurse first locates the wound. They, then, ask how we got hurt and identify the nature of the wound. Only then, they clean, put ointment and wrap it up if it needs wrapping and protection from air and dust. Sometimes, that protection is not needed. The wound heals out in the open. Same goes when it comes to healing of a mental trauma or illness. Sometimes, we confine in professionals or our loved ones, in order to let it out and process it openly. Sometimes, the trauma reduces with time. In any way, being aware and vigilant is the way to go.
Being knowledgeable about life in general, opens many channels for you. Being knowledgeable about yourself, opens gates inside you that lead to spiritual and general awareness about the concept of self. And the inner awareness is not necessarily internal, it can be seen from the outside as well. When we have positive energy from within it radiates physically as well. Have you encountered someone who’s spiritually awakened and aware? Do they stand out in the crowd? There are prominent examples of people who have made their mark in history, there is Swami Vivekanada, his awakening has revolutionised generations, one live example we can witness is The Dalai Lama.
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Healing is part of the spiritual journey.Unsplash
Also Read: Follow These Tips For a Better Mental Health
Awareness is the first step towards the staircase of spirituality. Healing is part of that journey. In our world, we go by our lives without paying much attention to causes of our actions. Every little thing we do, we do it for a reason. We might be suffering without being aware of it. There might be certain actions which are screaming those are trauma-response and not really us. But we go by our days, without paying heed to the fact that it really is the small actions that carry weightage in our lives. When we become attentive and thoughtful with what we do, we introspect, and then act. Thoughtless actions do not bear much fruit anyway. Thoughtfulness not only benefits us personally, but makes world a better place to live in. It really is the need of the hour to introspect every little doing and if it does not fit with the idea of self, then, it is time to find the root cause of what has us where we are.
Being self-aware is crucial as a human quality as well. When we face our problems, we gain experience, that experience leads us to understand and empathise with others’ sufferings too. It is a wholesome development.
Key Words: Self-awareness, Spirituality, Thoughtfulness, Mental Health
Honestly, who hasn’t watched one of the epic series of HBO– Game of Thrones?
There’s no question that when the first episode of Game of Thrones was released on April 11, 2011, the youth population of the world became exuberant. The main reasons behind this reaction was, first, the theme of the show, and second, the hidden lessons which it put forward.
Some of the valuable lessons which the Game of Thrones taught us are:
1. The pack always survives. This aptly meant that whether your pack consists of your family or your friends, you are the strongest when you are surrounded by a support system. This is what Ned Stark taught his children, to be together when “the winter comes”.
2. Never forget who you truly are. One of the most important lessons was given by Tyrion Lannister. He taught us that we should never forget who we really are. This means that we must not forget our bad habits and where we lack. So, once we know who we are, no one could ever use our lagging points against us.
3. Reading is necessary. Tyrion Lannister said, “A mind needs books like a sword needs a whetstone.” There is absolutely no denying that reading is not a habit now-a-days, but a necessity. If you want to be sharp and smart, then you must devote sometime to books, for they would teach you a lot!
4. Always pay your debts. Well, one of the most philosophical and learned houses if Game of Thrones is House Lannister. And so, one of the sayings of their house is, “A Lannister always pays his debts.” From here we get another life lesson that we must always pay off what we owe from people.
5. Always believe, “You know nothing.” Ygritte said this to Jon Snow in a teasing manner. But, this is actually for all those who believe that they know each and everything. Well, never believe that you know everything. Always learn from new experiences and never hesitate to take advice from others.
So, these were five most significant lessons which the series Game of Thrones offered us. In reality, we all are aware of these lessons, but we never really work upon them. But now, let’s try to understand each lesson and become the heir someday!
Keywords: Entertainment, Game of Thrones, HBO, Series, Youth, Lessons.